By Lilyanna D’Amato
Shimmering with sunny, psych-pop jams, Routines, the 2017 debut album from Indianapolis outfit Hoops is a summer album if there ever was one. The foursome, made up of longtime friends Drew Auscherman, Kevin Krauter, James Harris, and Keagan Beresford, effortlessly weds 70s jangly guitar to relaxed lo-fi reverb, crafting an album bubbling with buoyancy and, every so often, a lick of wistful introspection. Reminiscent of early Twin Peaks, the eleven-song project is the sonic equivalent of a hungover Sunday cruise down the coast.
The album’s highest flyer, “On Top,” bounces with a nostalgic optimism, encouraging the listener to:
Keep your head up, you’re doing fine
I know it’s hard, but you’ll be alright
Don’t think twice when it all goes wrong
But in time you’ll come out on top.
Recorded on a cassette tape, Hoop’s favorite audio format, the track whirs and buzzes alongside Krauter’s hazy vocals, calling the ear to the twang of Auscherman’s guitar harmony. The synths and chords swirl together, creating a languid pulse that flows through the remainder of the album.
That pulse finds its footing in the slightly more lively, “Rules.” A two-minute-long makeup track, the song boasts the catchiest guitar riff on the album, quickly playing directly into the even catchier chorus. Beresford repeats “I know I’m breaking all the rules this time,” ending the phrase with an unhurried crooning “oh” that seems to float, and fly away as gently as it came. Overlaid with Auscherman’s dynamic riff, the sleepy vocals perfectly syncopate the fast-paced instrumental, evoking that beachy ennui once again.
“Management” sweeps into the room in a lazy, head-bobbing frenzy, perfectly showcasing the group’s versatile melodic and rhythmic talents, followed by the fast paced and quippy “All My Life.”
“The Way Luv Is,” though, trumps all the rest. A tried-and-true personal favorite, Auscherman’s knowing lyrics aptly describe every quintessentially awkward break-up run-in. He sings:
Cuz that’s the way that love is
Yeah, that’s the way that love is
And if I saw you now
I’d probably keep my eyes to the ground
And if you saw me too
I bet you wouldn’t know what to do.
His deep baritone starkly contrasts with the track’s high pitched, heat-warped guitar and dreamy bedroom-pop production, accentuating Harris’ propulsive drumline and vocal harmony.
While some of the tracks on Routines, like “Benjals” and “On Letting Go” begin to blur together around the third listen, the album still perfectly captures the summer blues: warm and fun, with a little melancholy mixed in there somewhere.